How I Survived Child Loss: Part 2 – Support System

“You have the largest support system I’ve ever seen.”

The hospital social worker said this to me as we left the hospital the day after the accident. I still remember the look on her face, a mixture of disbelief and pride. Friends, family and church members had been flowing in and out of the hospital for the last 2 days.

Before we even arrived at the hospital that horrible Saturday afternoon, members of our church had started to fill the ER waiting room. By the time we arrived, my parents and I had to be ushered past the waiting room through staff only doors so those who’d come to support us wouldn’t overwhelm us. Friends had completely filled the ER waiting area. Most were stopped there and not allowed on the ICU floor where we were taken. I never ventured into the waiting area to see the crowd. I was barely holding it together as it was, I couldn’t emotionally handle that. Though I never saw them, I appreciated their presence.

Many other friends, who came to support us, came in through a different hospital entrance. They were able to make it to the ICU floor where my family and I waited for news of my husband. I can still remember looking in the waiting room and seeing them, sitting and talking to each other. I felt like I should go over there and join their conversation, but I just couldn’t. I stayed close to my family because I could not handle any conversation. I couldn’t talk to them, but I was so glad they were there.

The group of friends who came to the hospital shifted throughout the day. Some came and went, others stayed for hours; new ones arrived as word of the accident spread. I appreciated their presence and the fact they didn’t intrude on my need for distance. The social worker who spent time with us during our 36 hours in the hospital watched the ever-shifting crowd of people who’d come to support us. Apparently, they made an impression on her prompting the comment as we prepared to leave the hospital that Sunday afternoon.

Years later I understand why she was so impressed. I could not have made it this far without my support system.

Going to graduate school to become a counselor I learned one of the most important factors for success in therapy is the individual’s support system. It’s not the relationship with the counselor or the therapeutic techniques used, it is the support system that makes the most difference.

I can only imagine the hospital social worker saw the size of our support and knew we would be able to travel the hard road ahead.

In truth, she saw only a fraction of those who’ve shown up to support me on my journey of grief.

Through social media, my online photography club, and my rather large extended family I have been carried through my grief. I haven’t had to do any of this alone.

One night while working my new, I’m no longer a stay-at-home mom, job I had a meltdown. It was one of those bad grief days that I couldn’t contain. I was stuck in a call center customer service job and all I wanted was to go home and cry. But I had to keep answering phone calls. I made some big mistakes that night because I couldn’t focus. I was struggling to stay together so I could finish my shift.

I posted on Facebook how bad my night was going. I watched the slowly moving clock, willing it to move faster so I could go home and break down properly. Finally, the time came for me log out of my computer and leave work. I walked out of the building and started heading to my car, only to discover my parents had come to pick me up from work.

They had seen my Facebook post and had seen beyond the vague words and knew I was doing worse than I’d let on. My mom said to me “We weren’t sure if this would be ok”. It was a little weird, yes, but it was such an awesome thing for them to do. I curled up in the passenger seat of my van and cried as my mom drove me home, with dad following behind us.

This is just one of the small ways my parents have supported me.

The second Christmas after the accident, I wanted to hide away from reality. I couldn’t afford to go on vacation like I had the year before. So I talked my family into hiding out in the mountains with me. My parents found a rental house big enough for us, along with my sister and her family. We spent 3 days hiding from the world. It was peaceful and fun. (You can read about it here.)

I realized my sister and her family had given up all their holiday traditions to hide away with me. I felt bad about taking them away from their traditions until I mentioned it to my sister, she replied, “It’s the only thing you’ve asked us to do”. After all these years I still tear up at the selfless support.

My extended family has been another layer of support. Both of my parents come from large families. Growing up I loved having so many uncles, aunts, and cousins. But I have never been so thankful to come from a large family as I have since the accident. As news of the accident spread my mom’s family descended upon us, flying in from all over the country. The chaos of the Greeley side of my family was exactly what I needed. They held me together that first week. My dad’s family is more quite, but their support as time has stretched on has sustained me too. I have such an amazing family.

I could also go on about all the different ways my friends have shown me support. But this post is getting long. You can read about it (here, here and here).

I don’t know why God has blessed me with such a wonderful support system. So many grieving parents are on this awful journey alone. I’ve heard horrible stories of the things other bereaved parents have had to endure from family, friends and even their church. It breaks my heart when I see how little support some people have.

At the Compassionate Friends support group I attend, we have a saying “Your address book changes after the loss of a child”. It’s so true. People you thought would always be there for you disappear and others surprise you by becoming new friends. Even with my support system, I’ve had my address book change. People I thought were good friends are gone. And others I’ve had minimal contact with over the years became a larger part of my support.

I would not have been able to walk this path alone. I need every single person who has supported me in any way they can. Each one of them has carried me on this journey.

We are not meant to carry the burden of our pain alone. It’s too heavy and too hard. We need people to love us, support us and help carry us through.

This concept is so beautifully demonstrated at the end of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Frodo and Sam are trying to get to Mt. Doom so Frodo can destroy the ring of evil. No one but Frodo can carry the ring and at this point in the journey, the weight of the ring is too much for him. Frodo collapses and cannot go on. Sam, his trusted friend, in a climatic moment says to Frodo, “I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you”. This is such a great demonstration of how we are to support one another. No one can ever carry or take away my pain, but I have been carried through the pain by the love and support of those God sent to comfort me.

If you don’t have support in your grief journey look for a local chapter of Compassionate Friends or Grief Share.

7 Things NOT to Say to A Grieving Parent

Kindly callers hurt her, too, with the well-meant platitudes with which they strove to cover the nakedness of bereavement. – Anne’s House of Dreams by L. M. Montgomery

I first fell in love with Anne from Anne of Green Gables in 1989 when my family moved from Minnesota to Oregon. I was 14 years old and anticipating the move. The night before we left, my sisters and I stayed at my best friends house where we watched the Anne of Green Gables movies for the first time. I fell in love with Anne’s spunk and never ending chatter. However we were left with a cliffhanger. Gilbert was sick and dying but we couldn’t finish the end of the movie. I had to know what happened, so I read the books.

It’s interesting what you remember and don’t remember. After all these years all I remembered of Anne’s adult years was that Gilbert was able to get her dream house complete with a stream running through the yard. So imagine my surprise as I was reading through the books again to discover that Anne’s first child was stillborn. In the world created by L.M. Montgomery everything seemed happy and serene. Life was simple and pleasant. Sure the characters went through troubles, but nothing so terrible as child loss.

What Not to Say to Grieving Parents

It’s strange, but I found some measure of comfort in knowing that even in L.M. Montgomery’s day, people did not know how to handle grief. When people don’t know what to do or say, the platitudes they end up offering hurt so much more than they realize.

People sometimes think if they say the “right” thing they can help lessen or take away the pain. But in reality there are no words that can “cover the nakedness of bereavement”.

After the accident that claimed the lives of my only 2 children (you can read about it here), I heard my fair share of “well-meant platitudes”. Though I understood people were trying to help, the following words hurt and minimized my grief.

1) They’re in a better place

A kind older lady said this to me at the reception following the memorial service. I still remember how this statement was an emotional punch to the gut that had me physically take a step back. This statement completely misses the point of grief. It doesn’t matter where my children are. They are NOT with ME and I miss them. As long as they are gone I will be grieving.

2) How can I help? Let me know if I can do anything?

I know people say this out of a desire to be helpful, but really isn’t. My entire world had just imploded. I could barely breath. Getting dressed was an accomplishment of epic proportions. If that’s all I managed in a day, things were going good. I didn’t have a clue what I needed. And if I did know what I needed, I most likely didn’t care. Asking the bereaved person how you can help generates pressure for them to think about and give you ideas. If you truly want to help, here is a list of things others did for me that I found helpful and deeply appreciated.

3) Call me if you need to talk

 I had perfect strangers giving me their phone numbers. People I barely knew offering to listen. I even had someone set up a meeting for me to speak with a pastor I didn’t know, just because he too had lost a child. Again, I know people just wanted to help, but this wasn’t helpful. And in some cases it just made me mad.

Grief is an intense and intimate emotion. I wasn’t about to share my grief with strangers or acquaintances. I couldn’t share the intensity of what I was feeling with people I had no relationship with. I would share my grief with my family; friends and those I already had an established relationship with. I did not have the energy to build new relationships.

I would talk with the people who didn’t have to offer to be there for me, because I already knew they were.

4) I know what you are going through because my ________________________ died.

With this statement people are trying to find a way to connect to my grief. I get that. But there is nothing like the loss of a child. NOTHING. Our children represent the future. As parents we have dreams for our children as they grow. We worry over them, take care of them and guide them. Children are supposed to survive their parents. When a child dies this natural order is broken.

Child loss is not the same thing as losing your parent, step-parent, uncle or dog. I once heard that my Grandpa had said he’d lost his parents, a wife and a child and by far the worst was losing a child.

So PLEASE unless you have lost a child, never tell grieving parents you know how they feel.

5) You can have more children.

Shortly after the accident, I actually had someone tell me they were praying I would have another baby by the end of the year.

This statement implies that my children can be replaced. No child can ever be replaced. Each one has a unique personality and purpose in life. Whether or not more children are possible, my children are gone. And as long as they are gone, my grief will exist.

Child Loss has no end to grief.

6) This is a good time to reinvent yourself. (Or any version of “Its time to move on”)

Most of the time when people say things that are hurtful, I know they are trying to help and I let it go. But this statement was the one time I let the person know what I thought of what they had to say. I had seen the damage this kind of statement made in the lives of those around me.

People who are grieving a traumatic loss are not in a place to make major life decisions. The best advice I think I’d ever heard after dealing with a huge loss was “Don’t make any major life changes for a year”. It took me 2 years to voluntarily make any changes to my life. But when I did I knew it was the right time.

The problem with trying to make major life decisions or changes right after a traumatic loss is that we are still in shock. It takes a lot longer than people realize for this shock to wear off. It doesn’t go away after a few weeks, or even months. It can take a year or more. It took me longer because I went through a series of other losses after losing the boys. As one of my professors in college stated, “Loss begets more loss”.

Our society is in such a hurry with grief. But grief cannot be rushed. After experiencing a loss, individuals need to take the time to process that grief. It’s not a time to work on breaking bad habits, trying to start a new habit or a time to reinvent yourself. It’s a time to just breathe, cry, and adjust to a life without the loved one who was lost. And that takes time. A lot of time.

7) God won’t give you anymore than you can handle.

This statement. Sigh. I have a physical reaction to this statement every single time I hear it. I cannot smile at the well-meaning people who say it and pretend it’s ok, because I know they mean well. I have to say something, because this statement is simply not true. Nowhere in the Bible does God say “I won’t give you more than you can handle”. But God does PROMISE to be there for us in ALL THINGS.

I think this one needs a blog post all its own.

The next time you encounter someone who is grieving the loss of a loved one and you feel like you need to say something a simple “I’m so sorry” or “I’m sorry for your loss” is sufficient. It may feel inadequate, but it’s the kindest thing you can say.

7 Things NOT to Say to A Grieving Parent

Another Birthday Past

 

This blog post is late. The process of going through my oral boards for school took a lot out of me. (There is a blog post on this coming soon). As a result when Devin’s 14th birthday came around, I was still recovering. It took me a week and a half to feel like myself again. Now that I’m recovered (I think) I’m ready to start posting again. 🙂

Devin would have turned 14 on February 26th. I missed his 10th birthday . . . turning double digits. I missed his 13th birthday . . . becoming a teenager. Every time one of these days passes I remember what I’m missing.

Instead of another list of all the things I’ve missed, I thought I would share some memories with you.

Devin and I had our own special way of measuring his growth. Sure we had the standard marks on the wall, where every first and last day of school new marks were added for both boys. But Devin and I did something that was just for the two of us. We’d put our palms together and spread out our fingers. I could see how much he’d grown by how long his fingers were against mine. Today, his fingers would probably be longer than mine.

One night Devin and I were being silly. He was telling me the names of his fingers. Yes, he’d named his fingers. I wish I could remember the names of his thumb and forefinger. But I do remember the names of the last 3 fingers. Billy, Bob and Billy Bob. Every time he named off his fingers, I’d go into a fit of giggles. He kept repeating them, because I kept laughing. It was a fun game.

Devin would often do or say the funniest things. I used to say all the time “you never know what’s going to fall out of that kids mouth”. The other day my sister found an old Facebook post of mine from September of 2010. It was a conversation I’d had with Devin that I’d forgotten about. It made me laugh to remember.

Devin: “Mom you know how Adam named all the animals. Well who made all the words?”
Mom: “God made the words”
Devin: “I think it was Eve”

Such a smart, funny kid.

Because of the way my classes are structured, I was not able to get out of class on Devin’s birthday. This was the first time I was not able to take the day off from my responsibilities and spend it with my family. I knew with all the stress over orals the birthday might end up being harder than normal. Stress tends to exacerbate grief. The fact that I couldn’t take the day off concerned me a lot. I wasn’t sure how the day was going to go, or if I’d be able to deal with it.

My sister came up with the idea of the family coming to class for a visit on my break. I thought that was a good idea, so I asked a few of my classmates if they’d be ok with that. Everyone agreed, so the plan was set. My mom bought a 5 pound Hershey bar, in honor of Devin’s birthday, to share with everyone.

For Devin’s 6th birthday my sister bought him a 5 pound Hershey bar. The candy bar was almost as big as he was. I left it sitting out on the counter and all 4 of us would break off pieces to munch on. One  day after school Devin’s kindergarten teacher mentioned to me that he’d been a bit more hyper in class than normal. I knew immediately the cause was the giant Hershey bar. I guess he’d eaten more of it than I realized. Sneaky imp. 🙂

Devin B-day

We thought sharing a 5 pound Hershey bar with the class would be a great way to remember Devin on his birthday and celebrate the end of orals. My family arrived and introductions were made. The candy bar was broken up and shared. It was a nice way to spend Devin’s birthday.

It's harder than you think to break off a chunk of a 5 pound Hershey bar.
It’s harder than you think to break off a chunk of a 5 pound Hershey bar.

As I was driving home from class that night I started to feel weird about having my family come to class. I felt like I had unnecessarily dragged my class into my grief, and dragged my family to my school when they didn’t need to be there. In short, I felt foolish. Like I had made a big production of something that could have and should have remained small and private. It took me a few days to realize why I was feeling this way. I’ve progressed through my grief enough that I can handle these days without the need for a big production. For every birthday and accident day that has passed my family has gotten together to remember the boys with a special activity and dinner at one of the boy’s favorite restaurants. We’ve done balloon releases, lantern releases, launched rockets, worn silly bands, played with Dawson’s go cart, done light painting and we’ve even gone to a MythBusters display at OMSI in Portland. I knew that someday these activities would stop. And though I’m not sure we’ve reached that point, it’s nice to know I don’t NEED them anymore.

Hope

Finding the Good, No Matter How Bad Things Are

2014 is almost over. There are only a few days left, and I have to say, I am so happy this year is over. It’s been a very hard year for me. It’s been a year full of grief and stress, and I’ve never been so happy to see a year come to an end.

You can read about why this year has been so difficult here.

But as this difficult year draws to a close, I am reminded of the attitude I had at the end of the hardest year of my life.

At the end of 2011, I sent out my annual Christmas cards and letter. I wanted to say thank you to all the friends and family who had been so supportive throughout the year. But I also wanted to end the year with hope.

The following is an excerpt from that letter:

“Without a doubt this has been the hardest year of my life. I’ve lost everything that gave me purpose and made me who I was. Everything I knew and understood about my life is gone. I’m left with only these 3 things: my photography, family/friends and my faith in God. I have faith that God has been with me through everything and faith that he has brighter plans for me in the future.

A few years ago I asked the boys a question each night as I tucked them into bed. I asked them “What was your favorite part of today?” My goal was to get them thinking of the positive things even if they’d had a bad day. Of course this practice only lasted a week or so. But I’ve been thinking of that question a lot these past few weeks. Only the question has changed to “What was your favorite part of this year?” Believe it or not I can answer that question. With everything I’ve lost and gone through this year I can still find positive things. I think the boys would be proud of that.”

I reread my Christmas letter and was amazed at the faith and positive attitude I had that year. Though my faith in God has never wavered, my trust in God has. I know that seems like a contradiction. Having faith in God with my grief is easy, it’s the only way I can survive this. But it’s the trust in the little things of life that is harder. God has been teaching me to trust him in the little things this year. It’s a hard lesson I am still learning.

It is so strange that in the year 2011 I could easily find things that were good. I had experienced the worst thing a parent can imagine, I was still reeling from the tragedy. Yet I was still able to find something good from that year.

But this year it’s harder for me to find something good. When I look back on the year all I can see is anxiety, stress and grief. Yet because it’s been such a hard year, I’m feeling the need to ask myself this question again, to find something good out of this year.

Three things come to mind when I try and find something good from this year: my photography club, my first speaking engagement and school.

Though school has been where all of my stress has originated this year, it is also the only thing keeping me moving forward. Going to school has given me a sense of purpose and when I am done, hopefully I will be qualified to help others like me who’ve lost everything.

Beyond a sense of purpose, school has also given me new friends. The program I’m in is a cohort style program. This means that I go so class every Thursday night with the same people. My cohort has been together for 2 years now. We’ve been through a lot together as a class and have had a lot of fun. I hope once school is over and that weekly connection is gone, we will find a way to stay connected and remain friends.

The last day of November I had the opportunity to tell my story in church. This is something I have been wanting to do for a couple of years. But I was never sure I really had anything worthwhile to say. To be given the opportunity to share my story was not only an amazing opportunity, it was a healing experience as well.

If you missed the video you can see it here.

My photography club has been such a huge part of my support system in many ways. So it’s no surprise to me that they made my list of good things from this year again. This summer my photography club came to Oregon and I was able to show off some of my favorite places. We had so much fun photographing Oregon’s countryside and laughing with each other. I can’t wait for our trip next year.

Besides having a ton of fun with good friends, I learned a lot about myself from that trip. I learned that I am capable of so much more than I thought. I learned that I have some leadership skills and with practice, I could handle doing similar things on a grander scale. As a result, after the group left, I began thinking of another life goal that I hope to implement someday.

All this to say, that even during the worst day, month or year, if you look hard enough you can find something good that happened.

So “What was your favorite part of this year?”

Find something good

How You Can Help Someone Who Is Grieving

Last week I had an opportunity to share my story in church. It was an amazing experience. I was able to talk about topics I have become very passionate about in front of a large number of people. After telling my story I was able to share how God has comforted and supported me through the people around me. I had the opportunity to describe a little of what grief feels like. And I was also able to talk about how to respond to others who are grieving.

Checkout the complete video

At the end of the video I suggest asking 2 questions before saying something to a newly bereaved person. These questions “Am I saying this so I don’t feel uncomfortable?” and “Am I saying this to make them feel better, or remove their pain?” are to help someone examine why they want to say something. Often times the words we say, though meant to help, can actually cause more pain.

I’ve been thinking about these questions I mentioned in the video, and I realized I left off with an attitude of what not to say. So I’d like to pose another question for you to ask yourself. “How can I show this person I care, or that I love them?”

This is what it comes down to. As grieving parents we need to know that you care. Support doesn’t come in the form of magic words that make it all better. Support comes in the form of people expressing their concern and love. Some of my favorite expressions of support, love and caring were the little things people did.

I loved it when people would come over and clean my house. I was totally incapable of doing small things. Getting out of bed was a major accomplishment. Having people take care of the normal life tasks that were to hard for me made me feel cared for.

My sister used her knowledge of the car insurance industry and took care of all the insurance stuff that needed to be handled. By offering to help in this way, she took a huge burden off my shoulders.

For 3 months cards and gifts poured in. But it wasn’t the gifts that mattered, it was the recognition that we were hurting and needed support.

For a year my cousin sent me handmade cards. She recognized that support was needed long after most of the crowd had gone back to their normal lives. I looked forward to the cards every month and they decorated my table for a long time.

My photography club showed their support in many unique ways. One of my favorites was on the first year anniversary of the accident. They posted pictures on the club page for me and talked about what I meant to them. That expression of caring made me feel so special.

So many members of my extended family flew out right after the accident. It was amazing. They carried me through that first week more than they know. But it didn’t stop there. Other family members came to visit throughout the year. It was so nice to have people coming at various intervals during that first year. It gave me something to look forward to.

My best friend flew me out to visit her in South Dakota. I spent a week with her family being spoiled. She took such good care of me; I didn’t want to go home.

I have an uncle whose story is somewhat similar to mine. He has shared a bit of his story with me and allowed me to ask questions. He has been a wonderful source of wisdom.

One of the most amazing expressions of support came from a wonderful young woman. She organized a gift-giving brigade for my second holiday season without the boys. I didn’t realize what was going on at first. I happened to catch her leaving a gift on my doorstep. She’s such a sweet person; I didn’t think anything of it. The next day I came home from work to find another gift on my doorstep. But it wasn’t until the 3rd day I realized what was going on. From December 1st thru January 22nd, a group of women left gifts on my doorstep. It was so amazing! During the hardest time of my year I had something to look forward to when I went home. I didn’t have to go home to an empty house, which once was alive with my kid’s energy. I was able to go home and feel cared for by the random gifts left on my doorstep. I still distinctly remember the night my favorite gift arrived. I was chatting with my sister on my Bluetooth as I pulled into my driveway. That’s when I saw several paper snowflakes hanging in front of my door. I’m pretty sure I squealed. It was so beautiful and thoughtful. I haven’t decorated my home for Christmas since the accident. But that year I had snowflakes decorating the outside of my house. I left them up for as long as I possibly could, and when I took them down, I saved as many of them as I could.

A few of the gifts that showed up on my doorstep during my second holiday season without my children
A few of the gifts that showed up on my doorstep during my second holiday season without my children

Each person who has offered me support has done so in unique ways. Many people offered support through prayer. Others supported me by their presence or act of service. Some used their talents or abilities to help me with life tasks or to brighten my day in some way.

Everyone is different. Everyone who grieves does so in their own way. Everyone who offers support does so in their own way. No offer of love or support goes unnoticed or unappreciated. Even if those of us who are grieving don’t express our gratitude, I can promise you we are extremely grateful to those people who show us love, support and caring.

So let me ask you, what can you do to SHOW someone who is hurting that you care?

How you can help someone grieve

The Creation Of Hope

Last week I received a message from my pastor asking if he could use my story as part of his sermon. I asked if he just wanted to mention my story or if he’d like me to come share it personally. He became very excited at the opportunity to have me speak in-person, so I agreed.

I spent all of last week cycling between being excited and nervous. I even had a moment of sheer panic on Saturday night. .

Yesterday I shared my story and my journey of clinging to hope in church.

I have wanted to share my story for a long time. I am very passionate about grief, how to grieve and how to treat those who are grieving. It was a wonderful opportunity to share my story and my passion in a public forum.

After much prayer, I feel led to help others beyond just one-on-one counseling. I believe my story and my journey can benefit others. With a leap of faith and the support of my friends and family, I have decided to open myself up to speak to groups, churches, and support organizations.

The posted video is my first step down this path. Your prayers and your support is appreciated.

Being Carried Through Grief

“Come on Mr. Frodo. I can’t carry it for you . . . but I can carry you!” ~ Samwise Gamgee, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

From the very beginning I have been surrounded with a wonderful support system. Because of this I feel very lucky.

When my parents and I finally arrived at OHSU the hospital staff quickly ushered us past the ER waiting room and upstairs to our own private room. I was so thankful for this. I knew many people from our church had filled up the ER waiting room. I would not have been able to handle being around so many people in that moment. But I was so very grateful they were there. In a strange way just knowing they were there made me feel supported.

We had our own private room for the family on the floor of the ICU. There was also another waiting room on this floor. This second waiting room slowly filled with other supporters who showed up at the hospital as the news spread. Friends from college, an elder from our previous church, long time friends and new friends. I was such a mess during this time, I’m not sure I was able to talk to most of those who came. But I was so happy they were there.

When my husband was discharged the following afternoon the hospital social worker said to me “You have the largest support group I’ve ever seen”.

What she saw was only the tip of the iceberg.

The amount of support I have received over the years is truly inspiring. Family, extended family, friends, acquaintances, churches, and even complete strangers, have all supported me in one way or another. With the photography community I was involved in and missionary friends there were people praying from all around the world. Everyday I would hear of someone else, usually someone I didn’t know, who’d heard about the accident and was praying for us. I received cards and gifts from complete strangers. Even today I still have people tell me they’ve been thinking of me and praying for me.

Every time someone told me they thought of me that day, or prayed for me, or sent a card, or gave me a gift I felt supported. Everyone who came to visit or let me talk about the boys supported me. Every time I heard how the accident affected someone I felt supported. Every time someone talked about my boys or shared memories of them I was encouraged. Even to this day the support continues.

I could go on about the support I have received. And I will in future posts. 🙂

I wish everyone who has to go through such difficult times could have the support group I have. I’ve heard terrible things about how grieving parents have been treated. I breaks my heart to hear their stories, and it makes me angry. I get angry when I hear about people who are in pain and that pain is increased because of the insensitivity or downright mean spiritedness of others. And many times it comes from people who should know better. We are supposed to support each other in our pain, not make it worse.

I am so incredibly fortunate that I have not had to experience the mean spirit of some people. I’ve had people say things to me that hurt, but I know they had good intentions. I’ve had people say insensitive things, but not downright mean. Most of the time these people say things because they want to take away the pain I’m feeling.

One thing I’ve learned is you cannot, and you should not try to, take away someone’s pain. But you can make it easier to carry.

I love the quote from Lord of the Rings. It’s near the end of the movie when Frodo and Sam are trying to get into the heart of Mt. Doom to destroy the One Ring of Power. Frodo, burdened with carrying the ring, is exhausted, beat up, completely worn down and cannot move. Sam knows he cannot take the burden of the ring from Frodo, so he carry’s Frodo instead. It’s such a great moment in the movie. But after the accident I saw it a little bit differently, it became a metaphor for my support system. The Ring became my grief, a burden that only I can carry. Sam became my support system, all the people who prayed for me and supported me, were carrying me so I wouldn’t have to bear my burden alone.

Every time I felt the support of others, my burden was lifted a little bit.

I feel like God has given me an incredible gift in the people who’ve surrounded me and held me up during these last few years. I also feel like I’ve been given a glimpse of a vision God had for his church. I believe we are meant to help share each other’s burdens, to support and encourage each other through our pain and struggles.

 “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Corinthians 1:4 (New Living Translation)

When we share the burden of grief and pain, we make that burden lighter. We can then turn around and use the support we were given to help support others in their pain.

I can honestly say having the support system I do, has made all the difference in my life. So Thank You to everyone who has prayed for me, supported me, encouraged me and listened to me. I would not be where I am today without you.

Mountain (1 of 1)